Last year's lockout-shortened regular season consisted of 48 games, and when it was over, the Rangers were headed to the playoffs.
By comparison, the Rangers have played 48 games this season, but they have five fewer points (51 this season, they had 56 last year), scored 11 fewer goals (119 to 130), and allowed 14 more (126 to 112).
But the Rangers (24-21-3) still have a grip, albeit precarious, on an Eastern Conference playoff spot, just one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings, who visit Madison Square Garden tonight.
On Tuesday, the Rangers missed an opportunity to bring a four-game winning streak into the finale of this four-game homestand after they allowed two goals in nine seconds early in the second period and lost to the Lightning, 2-1.
"I thought our third period was good, our end of the second was good," Ryan Callahan said. "We keep playing like that and we are going to get the bounces and we'll get the equalizer there. We just have to bring that against Detroit."
In five previous games, the Rangers had scored on the power play, which has vaulted to sixth place in the NHL. But they were 0-for-2 in the third period on Tuesday.
"We got a big power-play goal when we needed," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "We killed off the penalties we had to. That was the difference."
It may be even tougher with the man advantage tonight -- the Red Wings have the fourth-best penalty-kill on the road in the league.
The Rangers, who beat Detroit, 3-2, at Joe Louis Arena on Derick Brassard's overtime goal on Oct. 26, had Wednesday off; the Red Wings haven't played since Sunday, a 1-0 loss at Anaheim.
Tuesday's result, said Henrik Lundqvist, was "obviously not satisfying . . . we're looking to get points in every game. We have to bounce back and play a really strong one."